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The Case Against Homeschooling

Photograph by Twenty20

I shall preface this by saying I have no real intentions to homeschool my child. I think about it quite often, but I know it probably wouldn't work for our family.

Many parents are taking the homeschool route, and I've never been one to judge them because I kinda get it. Public schools have curricula that may not work for every child. Private schools can be costly. And isn't it a parent's right to decide how their children learn?

I support the homeschooling movement, and heavily considered it for awhile. However, even if the stars aligned enough for me to have the opportunity to do it, these five fears stop me in my tracks:

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1. Losing the second income

Homeschooling in our household would mean that I'd have to quit working. Aside from actually liking to work and provide for our family financially, going years and years without a second income seems a little scary. No job market is secure, so what happens if my husband takes a pay cut? Or loses his job? If that were to happen now, we'd be in a situation where my income could help keep the house afloat. As a homeschooling mama, we'd be screwed. I'm not saying I have to have a six-figure income, but I've got to bring in a little something to ensure we pay the bills and debts, and save for the future. Homeschooling would put a huge financial strain on us.

2. Fear of failing my children

I think I'm pretty smart. But am I an educator? I can't confidently say "yes" to this. Do I have skills in early childhood development or would I be the homeschooling mom that uses Pinterest as her curriculum? I'm raising my hand for the latter. While I may do OK with teaching my children basic skills, such as learning colors, the ABCs and how to count in Spanish, I can't say I would be much help beyond third grade. Math? Forget about it. Science? Yeah, right. My skill set is limited, and I would hate to know that my children missed out on something important due to my negligence or ignorance. Just because I have knowledge in a subject, who's to say I'm equipped to effectively teach it?

If at 15 years old, my child can't spot Iceland on a map, that's my fault, right?

3. Socialization

My homeschooling friends laugh whenever I tell them about this fear, because they swear it's in my head. I know many homeschooling parents and children are part of groups that meet up weekly for activities and field trips. I'm aware that the perception of homeschooled children locked away in a room to just talk amongst themselves is a myth. Many are very social. But is it enough? School settings allow children to converse and deal with various situations. Discussions on the playground, in the classroom and during lunch were instrumental when I was growing up. Not having regular interaction with children their own ages seems a bit off-putting to me.

4. Losing myself

I'm one of those mamas who fights hard to maintain her self-identity. I mean, I get it. Parenthood takes up a huge portion of your life for the rest of your life. The sacrifices are absolutely worth it. I'm a working mom who has never felt guilt for being a working mom, so the thought of having to always be at home with my children with very little time to do things that I want to makes me a bit nutty. After the homeschooling day is over, guess what? It's time to work on household duties. Day in and day out, I've dedicated my time to raising my babies and, while they've got mama, mama may lose herself. Am I willing to sacrifice my entire self for a decade or two? I'm not so sure.

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5. How do I know I'm doing it right?

Because I'm not educator, I don't know the correct way to measure "success" in schooling children. Sure, I can do report cards and progress reports, but how accurate will they be? If at 15 years old, my child can't spot Iceland on a map, that's my fault, right? Should we have worked more on geography? It's not too late, is it? Comparing my kid to someone else's will likely make me feel worse, and that's not the way to determine whether I'm doing "it" right or not, is it? How does this work?

Admittedly, I know very little if nothing about homeschooling. I know there are 1,000 ways to do it. But until I can clear up all five of those fears, the husband and I will have to continue to find the best schools for our children and to be heavily involved in their education—without exactly being their teachers.

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